Startup from a passion for bamboo flutes

Nguyen Van Mao, known as Mao Meo (Cat), has made his name in the national start-up community because of his passion for bamboo flutes. Mao is also the initiator of a movement to play bamboo flutes in the local community and has opened 31 bamboo flute stores nationwide. He is the director of the Mao Meo Bamboo Flute company that exports its products to 20 countries worldwide.

Inside the man who set a record in Vietnam by making Vietnam’s largest bamboo flute is the courage and will of a young Vietnamese who dares to pursue his passion.

Mao was born in a mountainous area of Tan Ky district in Nghe An province. At the age of 8, Mao started learning how to play the bamboo flute from his father. Falling in love with the images of Vietnamese life and culture from bamboo flute sound, Mao nurtured his flute-playing passion for years.

With his passion for bamboo flutes, Nguyen Van Mao has become a bamboo flute producer. Photo: Viet Cuong

Mao takes care of the bamboo flutes in his
bamboo flute shop at 366 Nguyen Trai. Photo: Viet Cuong

At the age of 30, Nguyen Van Mao is the youngest person to receive the National Artist Award by the Vietnam Artisan and Trademark Association. Photo: Viet Cuong

When he was in his second year of university in Hanoi, Mao made bamboo flutes to give to his friends as presents and taught them to play the flutes for free.

Mao kept going back and forth from Hanoi to Nghe An and wandered in the forest to find bamboo to make the flutes and give them as gifts. Thanks to a friend’s advice, Mao decided to make flutes for sale. By the third year of university, Mao started his online career by selling bamboo flutes.

To pursue the path of making bamboo flutes and playing professionally, Mao opened his first bamboo flute shop at 366 Nguyen Trai in 2013.

Over the past 10 years, Mao established hundreds of bamboo flute clubs in Hanoi, forming a community that practices and performs on the flute in public places. He also opens the website www.saotrucmaomeo and Flute Club Fanpage with 108,000 members.

The most outstanding achievement of his career is the YouTube channel Sao Truc Mao Meo with 370,000 subscribers. This channel has set a record for the largest flute forum in Vietnam honored by YouTube.

Because of his relentless efforts, at the age of 30 Nguyen Van Mao is the youngest person to receive the National Artist Award by the Vietnam Artisan and Trademark Association.

Mao plays the flute in a charity event in Ha Giang. Photo: Files

Mao plays the flute for the children in a mountainous area. Photo: Files
Nguyen Van Mao at the ceremony to honor Vietnamese enterprises in international intergration in Hanoi. Photo: Files

Mao has performed in many Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan. Nguyen Van Mao successfully registered the intellectual copyright of Mao Meo Flutes in 2012 and 2017. He officially established Mao Meo Bamboo Flute Company to create jobs for hundreds of local workers and to export products globally. His largest export markets are America, Japan, and South Korea

Mao realized that the bamboo flute songs his father played were imbued with the Vietnamese culture, the Vietnamese soul, the childhood aspiration.

Story: Bich Van Photos: Viet Cuong Translated by Hong Hanh